I am in awe of my upstairs neighbor, Lydia. In the last year, Lydia has had both her older brother, who suffered a stroke, and her 89-year old mother move in with her. Lydia works full-time to support her family and also continues to care for both her mom and her brother. She works tirelessly to make sure they have everything they need. Lydia is a caregiver.
There are Lydia’s all across Canada. Eight million Canadians (that’s 1 in 4) provide unpaid care to a family member or friend with a long-term health condition, physical or mental disability, or age-related need. These caregivers play an integral role in supporting relatives, friends and neighbours, and they often go unrecognized and unsupported. At some point in our lives, over half of Canadians will be a family caregiver.
At Petro-Canada we believe that caregivers need support too. That’s why we are introducing the Petro-Canada CareMakers Foundation. Through the CareMakers Foundation, Suncor, the proud owner of Petro-Canada, plans to invest $10 million over the next five years to bring awareness and support to the essential work of caregivers.
Caregivers provide roughly 75% of all patient care in Canada. Among other things, family caregivers provide transportation, meal preparation and housekeeping. They schedule appointments, help with medications and provide emotional support. On average, a family caregiver will spend 19 or more hours per week on their caregiving duties, often while working full-time themselves.
But these essential activities come with a cost for the caregiver. According to Statistics Canada, 43% of caregivers reported missing work, 15% cut down their hours, and 10% passed up a promotion or new job. And while there are many rewards to being a caregiver, they also face a number of challenges, including a change in relationship dynamics, extreme lifestyle changes, depleted mental health, and tend to spend time worrying about their loved ones.
The Petro-Canada CareMakers Foundation will provide grants to charitable organizations in Canada that support family caregiving, to enhance and amplify their work. The first recipients of the CareMakers Foundation include:
- Baycrest Foundation
- Circle of Care: Mount Sinai Hospital
- BC Neighbourhood Houses and Community Care
- Community Care, City of Kawartha Lakes
For many, caring is more than a simple act of kindness; it’s an everyday commitment and an unspoken promise. Working with other organizations in the sector, the CareMakers Foundation will focus on providing tools and resources that can help support family caregivers in Canada. To learn more about the impact caregivers have and what Petro-Canada is hoping to do, visit caremakers.ca.
~ Kate T.